The Pew Research Center has provided another marker in the journalism revolution (as Clay Shirkey puts it) currently underway, and it's muddled and moody -- just what you'd expect in a period of change and uncertainty for news-gathering and distribution.
Of 353 journalism executives questioned between December 2009 and January 2010, "broadcast news executives were strikingly more pessimistic, with those who see journalism headed in the wrong direction outnumbering those who think it is headed in the right direction by almost two-to-one. Leaders of newspaper newsrooms, by contrast are split, with a light tilt toward optimism."
This last is surprising. Why would newspaper executives be more optimistic about the future of their craft than their broadcast kin? It seems like viewers will switch on the news more readily than they'll pay for it these days. Unless the Internet is the looming presence felt by both electronic and print vendors, which evidently is the case.
Regarding the Web, most of the news executives who responded to Pew's online survey think "the Internet is changing the fundamental values of journalism. Six out of ten feel this way -- though executives from broadcast operations (62 percent) do so more than executives from newspapers (53 percent). Their biggest concern is loosening standards of accuracy and verification, much of it tied to the immediacy of the Web."
There's a link to the full report, which like the others in Pew's ongoing chronicle of journalistic change, is worth pondering. But for all the parents reading this, it's time to get personal for a moment. This writer, a onetime journalist, has sometimes regretted that he didn't seek to lead his three sons into news careers. Rather, his philosophy was to equip the boys (with good educations) to head as effectively as possible where their own interests led them. Each has done that.
Suppose, though, he had strongly encouraged them to become writers, reporters, or editors. Where would they be now? They'd at least be worried and might be in long-term unemployment (as is a former journalist son of friends of ours).
Parents, don't attempt to predict the future -- equip your kids to follow their own interests as effectively as possible.